Rescue 180 Forms NARCAN Task Force

White Pine Police Chief Chad Cotter is joined by Dandridge Police Department's Detective Sgt. Kenneth Lodwick and THP Sgt. Jeff Coffey, who is demonstrating  administering NARCAN to an overdose patient, played by Raven Mason.Photo submitted by Debra Shultz

White Pine Police Chief Chad Cotter is joined by Dandridge Police Department’s Detective Sgt. Kenneth Lodwick and THP Sgt. Jeff Coffey, who is demonstrating administering NARCAN to an overdose patient, played by Raven Mason.
Photo submitted by Debra Shultz

Overdoses are overtaking our communities. What is the answer?

Throughout Tennessee, Prevention Coalitions are being formed in order to provide Prevention Education, and to date, there are 35 (mostly county-wide) Coalitions working to control this epidemic.

Each Coalition that is funded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is required to have at least one Board Certified Prevention Specialist on staff who is actively interacting with the community in order to build capacity and reach their population with the message of Substance Abuse Prevention. The Coalitions are required to build a logic model and an Action Plan created from evidence-based Strategies from the Strategic Prevention Framework Model. The Coalitions then implement the plan in their communities.

We do a community assessment to determine our needs and our resources. As we were looking at our need for this epidemic, we are determined to cover all bases in the opioid epidemic. We looked at overdoses as well as fatalities, and we want to utilize all grant money made available to us to provide NARCAN to Jefferson County.

We are in line for a NARCAN grant. It will be first piloted in Anderson county, but it is for our whole region.“ Shares Executive Director of Rescue 180, Jefferson County’s Substance Abuse Coalition, Rev. Debra Shultz

The supervisor over this area’s project was chosen by the funder. Stephanie Strutner CPS I of ASAP coalition in Anderson adds, “Jefferson County will be waiting for due process to receive grant money. We have contractors hired and are currently working to train them and prepare our planning materials and trainings for the project. We will be piloting the project in Anderson county to develop protocol. Once established, we will utilize a community assessment we are developing to determine which counties will receive priority. Once finalized, we will distribute the assessment to the coalitions in the region and include you guys in our planning process. We will alert you as soon as we are ready to do so. In the meantime, we are pleased to be able to provide this life-saving resource to communities in our region.”

Shultz says, According to state reports provided by the Department of Mental Health, we have had 6 overdoses that were fatalities in Jefferson County in 2015, 97 nonfatal drug overdoses and outpatient visits, and 58 nonfatal drug overdose inpatient stays.

Jefferson County Emergency Medical Director Brad Phillips shares his thoughts on the opioid epidemic and this report: “We utilized NARCAN 121 times in 2016 and to date this year have administered it 50 times.

It definitely is imperative that public safety professionals continue to work together to save lives and protect the public as we battle this growing epidemic of opioid abuse.”

According to 911 Director Justin Crowder, In 2016, there were 73 overdose poisoning calls dispatched. In 2017 so far, there have been 37 calls to 911 where NARCAN was to be administered.

Just speculating, these statistics could very well emphasize the importance of having first responder’s on the scene to administer the life saving drug of NARCAN. Thankfully, in these instances, the patient was evaluated, and it was determined that they were a candidate for NARCAN. If EMS had not administered it to those patients who were not at first identified as overdose calls, it means 61 people could have expired, if NARCAN had not been used,” explains Shultz.

Jefferson City Fire Chief Lee Turner is also on board the task force. He has also had over 25 years of experience in the field of saving lives, when minutes count. Chief Turner explains, “First of all, Law Enforcement should carry NARCAN in case of accidental exposure to themselves or co-workers, but ultimately they are out in the field and are usually closer to access the overdose patient. The quicker the provider to re-establish the patient’s respiratory drive, the less brain damage that occurs and the patient outcome is greatly improved.”

State Trooper Jeff Coffey, who has had over 23 years in Law enforcement and also has been a paramedic for 25 shares,.“As we see the use of drugs in Jefferson County, such as fentanyl, increase in our communities, it is imperative that Law Enforcement agencies carry the lifesaving drug NARCAN, not only for their safety, but the safety of the general public.”

Shultz adds, “Our goal in organizing a ‘NARCAN Task Force,’ is to build a protective force for our community, as we strive to provide secondary prevention for the Health and welfare of Jefferson County.

In 2014, the Department of Health announced that the opioid problem was now in the category of being an epidemic. In the Appalachian region, we were also placed at the top of the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome problem, and we are working fervently to teach prevention education as well as provide advocacy to young families.

Rescue 180 has joined forces with our 4th Judicial recovery Court and the Health Department as we work to provide healthy alternatives for pregnant mother’s who have been using drugs and are now incarcerated. Working as a Prevention Specialist, I must say even though providing this life saving drug is not primary prevention, but secondary, still there is absolutely no reason why a city or county would not have NARCAN in every corner, ready to utilize it in their Communities. As a coalition, we are working to help fill that need, and provide necessary training to law enforcement if it is needed.”

Rescue 180 participants assemble to create the NARCAN Task Force.Photo submitted by Debra Shultz

Rescue 180 participants assemble to create the NARCAN Task Force.
Photo submitted by Debra Shultz

In building the NARCAN Task Force, the Coalition has reached out to key leaders in the community.

We already work with our law enforcement and judicial system on many other projects concerning substance abuse.” Said Shultz. “Implementing an awareness program for our overdose issue about equipping first responders was not difficult. I have absolutely no complaints. We have one of the finest group of law enforcement around; and they have been ready to do what is necessary to fill this gap. We are definitely blessed in Jefferson County.”

Shultz says she immediately contacted Chief Chad Cotter of White Pine to help lead this project, since he has an emergency Medical background as well as law enforcement. Cotter is the Fire Chief and Police Chief of White Pine.

Cotter shares, “I believe as a community we have hit a milestone, considering fifteen years ago drug addiction was something that wasn’t talked about with each other. People would always shy away from it and now I would say addiction has impacted everything single family in some form or fashion in Tennessee.

Speaking in the law-enforcement community, jail was the only option that we have had for all these years. Now, when someone with addiction comes up and asks for help, we shouldn’t have to wait three to fours days. We should have someone right then for that person to speak with, like a liaison, to get there process started. With the NARCAN task force set up and putting NARCAN in every police car in the county, hopefully in the near future, this can be another tool on our belt to help start the recovery process. We, as a Christian community, can’t afford to have another life taken from opioid addiction or any other addiction.”

Shultz says the passion of our law-enforcement to go the second mile to save lives astounds her, and Dandridge Police Chief, Carson Williams agrees.

“Due to the increasing number of opioid overdoses in our area, I think it is critical that our officers are equipped with NARCAN to administer when necessary to help save lives,” states Chief Williams.

Williams is also on board the NARCAN Task Force, having been a key player in supporting Rescue 180’s mission since 2008, providing advocacy and the Substance Abuse Tipline, a drug box, Drug Take-backs, and a space where rescue 180 meets monthly.

Sgt Scott Winstead of the Jefferson City Police Department shares his thoughts about the importance of first responders carrying and using NARCAN. “The purpose for Law Enforcement to have NARCAN accessible at anytime is due to heroin making a big comeback in our area. This is because heroin is the closest high to prescription pills. Plus, heroin is cheaper. Also, the quality of the drugs is more pure and the mixture of it and fentanyl is causing massive floods of overdoses in hospitals and for paramedics on the street. Having NARCAN at hands reach being a first responder can save lives and has been proven, by statistics.”

Shultz adds, “Sgt. Winstead has been a great asset to us. With his 25 years of experience in law enforcement, he has not only helped us in doing presentations to our local Boys and Girls Club, but has his own program that he presents in the schools.”

The Coalition’s Chairman, Barry Fain, is a Youth Services Officer for Juvenile Court and has been working in the area of law enforcement/Judicial system, between hardware secure facilities and the court systems, for over 25 years. He had some very informative words to share about his opinion of the use of NARCAN by our first responders.

Most people think of Law enforcement carrying Naloxone, a.k.a. NARCAN®, as solely being for saving an addict that has overdosed, sometimes repeatedly. However, we need to think in a broader scope than just that. One of the more publicized incidents occurred on June 23rd, when an innocent 10 year old boy died after he is believed to have come in contact with Fentanyl from a visit at his community pool in Miami, Florida. “While Jefferson County is not Miami-Dade, Florida, we are certainly not immune to the possibility of innocent children being exposed to Fentanyl or opioids in a home. Sadly, this is borne out by the sheer number of drug-related dependency and neglect cases seen in our court systems. Law enforcement will, most likely, be the first on scene responders in such a community-based incident.“

The Task Force also has Kevin Poe at the decision making table. He is the Criminal Investigator for the 4th Judicial Public Defenders office. Poe has over 16 years of experience in the criminal justice system.

Our judicial district has devoted a lot of assets to proactively fighting the opioid epidemic. The unfortunate reality is that we cannot reach everyone and our law enforcement officers will be saving lives by reacting to an overdose and administering NARCAN,“ added Poe.

The opioid crisis is devastating our communities, from newborns to grandparents. In other words, as the old adage goes, from the cradle to the grave. Undeniably, using NARCAN is saving lives, and it is a necessary tool that must be made available to our first responders.” shares the Honorable Judge Duane Slone, who presides over the 4th Judicial Circuit Court and the Recovery Court. Slone has been a passionate advocate locally, statewide and now nationally in the fight against our opioid epidemic.

Rescue 180 has collaborated with Judge Duane Slone on many projects locally and Statewide.

Having Judge Slone on board with all our prevention projects is an unbelievable asset. He has joined us in Town Hall Meetings, School events, and Banquets, and will be our special speaker again at a very important, ‘Count it Drop it, Lock it’ event to be held at the Field of Dreams on August 24th. This event is open to the community. For more information, check our website and/or Social Media for details,” shares Shultz

Keith Shultz, Assistant Director of Rescue 180, says that this task force is exactly the kind of project their organization wants to be a part of. “Our mission statement is to be a ‘voice of force’, changing a community one day at a time. So we are always open to provide a platform for every need in our community, in the area of prevention, first level and secondary.

Part of our job as a coalition is to not only be an umbrella for prevention efforts, but to encourage collaboration of other organizations. We have so many resources in our county. Rescue 180 provides them with a platform to utilize these resources together. Sometimes, it is just a matter of getting everyone together at the same table.”

Having NARCAN available in our schools is also very important; and one of our most beneficial advocates for the NARCAN Task force is Carson-Newman University’s Steven Lake, who is the Director of the Department of safety on the Campus.

Debra Shultz says Lake has a wealth of experience and knowledge, with over 25 years in law enforcement, including working as an agent with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) for 2 years, as well as the Military Police for 28 years.

Carson-Newman Department of Public Safety has issued NARCAN to both the Police Officers and Guards that serve our campus. It is imperative to ensuring the safety of our campus community. We must be prepared to act as we are in the service of ensuring the safety of those we serve. Carson-Newman Campus is located in the Jefferson City limits and routinely hosts events open to the public. Couple this with the current opioid epidemic surging across our county, we would be remiss to hide our head in the sand and pretend that it could never happen here. Therefore, we have made the decision to add another tool to our repertoire to be prepared to answer the call should that need ever arise,” shares Lake.

Shultz says bringing so many professionals together to form this task force was imperative to the cause. However, one of the most insightful on the Task Force is a woman with a personal story.

Mother and Director of the ‘Addict’s Family,’ Rhonda Coffey added these words.

The past two years I have been a staunch advocate for the use of NARCAN/Naloxone. Every day we lose 144 lives to overdose. These deaths, like my son’s, could have been prevented with a simple tool: NARCAN.

Our law enforcement officers have fast become the “First Responders” to most of the overdoses that occur. Minutes count in reversing the overdose and this is the best, most efficient tool to prevent another death. Also, let us not dismiss the fact that our law enforcement officers are also placing their own lives on the line every time they encounter drugs in the line of duty. NARCAN is the only way to ensure the safety of all involved,” explained Coffey.

Shultz says there will soon be more information for the community on funding for first responders to administer NARCAN.

This is about the health and welfare of our community, and Rescue 180 will continue to seek out advocacy for the task Force.”

For more information, please contact Debra Shultz at Rescue180@yahoo.com

Source: Submitted by Debra Shultz

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